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Aaron Swartz's Secret Service files to be released in small victory for transparency

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Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz

Following months of delays, the public will finally have access to the Secret Service's records on Aaron Swartz, the activist and hacker who tragically committed suicide amid a lawsuit regarding bulk downloads from the JSTOR academic database. The Secret Service has fought to withhold the files about Swartz, denying a Freedom of Information Act request from Wired's Kevin Poulsen by citing sensitive information regarding ongoing proceedings, despite the case being dismissed following Swartz's death.

Most of the academic articles downloaded from the JSTOR database where within the public domain yet remained locked behind a paywall. Swartz created a program to save these articles in bulk with plans to release these documents for free, thus prompting the Secret Service investigation and subsequent lawsuit. Two days prior to his suicide, JSTOR implemented a program offering free but limited public access to its databases.

No records about Swartz have been released yet, with the defense blaming the delays on the large number of related files. But the documents will certainly be thorough, as the Justice Department has reportedly "exercised diligence in processing the these records," resulting in the uncovering of thousands of additional documents located outside the agency's headquarters.

District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the government to start releasing files that have already been processed and has set a deadline of August 5 for a timetable for the release of the remaining documents.